Irony, thy name is the Guardian

A headline from the Milo affair last week in the Guardian reads: Milo Yiannopoulos’s enablers deserve contempt – and must be confronted.

The irony? This is the same rag that keeps enabling Sarah Ditum and Julie Bindel.

So you’ll forgive me, Guardian, if I am somewhat skeptical of your seemingly newfound defense of trans people. While your writers are calling for confrontation with reactionary transphobes, I have to wonder if the other editors in your company are getting the same memo.

-Shiv

Youtube censoring educational content for trans people

A few months ago YouTube once again updated their community guidelines such that certain content could be age-restricted, and that age-restricted content couldn’t be monetized. Professional sex educators were understandably upset, as now their means of earning money was going to be denied to them. YouTube’s administrative staff seem to largely operate from America’s sex squeamishness such that even the most benign, descriptive and frankly unsexy video would be flagged. It’s not quite censorship, but it does force sex educators to volunteer their time rather than get paid for it.

Cue the institutional transphobia. Chase Ross, a transmasculine youtuber who I follow, has had vast portions of their content restricted following the guidelines update. The videos that were flagged? They were reviewing prosthesis. Not sex toys. Just implements to facilitate the health of gender dysphoric transmasculine individuals by reducing their anxiety and depression.

This seems to be operating from an aggressively transphobic, and distressingly popular, notion that anything related to transgender health qualifies as “sexual,” which plays into one half of trans-antagonists’ simultaneous hypersexualization/desexualization complex.

Much of what I do here is likewise meant to be educational. One reason I’m a lot less likely to migrate away from FreethoughtBlogs is precisely because so many other networks, in their bid to attract ad revenue, will impose restrictions upon the content they can host. And the restriction is almost always related to sexual content–again, American squeamishness (this despite the very obvious hypocrisy of what the ads on these site say. They’re very obviously trying to exploit sex. So you can sell it–if you’re an advertiser–but you can’t teach it, if you’re an educator). And the portions of my content on trans people could very well end up being called “sexual,” even if it’s as stimulating as a Donald Trump speech.

-Shiv

I’m not actually happy about what happened to Milo Yiannopoulos

Professional garbage fire Milo Yiannopoulos finally had his book deal retracted. He also was also set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference and that too was cut.

I’m not particularly happy at this change of events. Not because I want to hear him speak–I’d sooner swim through a sea of thumbtacks–but because it wasn’t his blatant racism, xenphobia, sexism or transmisogyny that was considered unacceptable. No, apparently all those are still fine, but if you advocate for pederasty, that’s the straw too much!

Let me be clear here: I do not think debate is the correct response for Milo. He knows he’s full of shit. He embodies the nihilistic performative sadomasochism endemic to 4chan. He is not there to expand the knowledge of his audience, he is there to pump them up with a victim narrative and set up a plethora of still-mistreated minorities as the villain of a cheap video game. I will stop just short of endorsing the Black Bloc’s disruptive tactics–Canadian Intelligence has something of a hate-on for anarchists and this post will inevitably be mined by them for dirt should I be arrested–but debate and protest don’t work on him. You need to deter him. You need pain, or the threat of it at least, to get him to give up. The Black Bloc achieved something where peaceful protest did not. That is undeniable.

And that’s what pisses me off. When he was running around the country, performing acts that would be considered criminal in sane democracies, everything was just fine because he was targeting other undesirables. Seriously, he got paid to sexually harass a trans woman so badly she had to flee campus for her safety. This is not a man embarking on a quest for knowledge. This is a man whose mission is to cause pain as some kind of divine retribution for succeeding where insecure basement dwelling entitled white men have not.

Why hasn’t the school been sued to oblivion for permitting this? Why does it seem like enough people don’t give a shit about his inciting violence against trans people?

No, none of that mattered. It was pederasty-while-gay that finally did the deal.

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech.

-Shiv


 

Edit Feb 22, 2017: Following reader feedback I have removed a poorly worded reference to Richard Dawkins’ dismissals of the impact of pederasty.

When Transphobia Trumps Statistics

As a transgender Canadian, I’ve been hawkishly poring over the many debates on Bill C-16, a human rights bill that would add “public incitements of violence,” “willful promotion of hatred,” and “advocacy for genocide” as activities outside of “acceptable speech” concerning gender identity and expression. It would also add bias against a victim’s gender identity or expression as an aggravating circumstance for criminal sentencing. Any business under federal jurisdiction — including the postal service, telecommunications, banks, and airlines — that discriminates against an employee or hiree on the basis of their gender identity and expression would be penalized.

In short, Bill C-16 a good step for trans equality in Canada, strengthening our legal protections. And the data shows they’re much needed.

In 2011, the National Task Force for Transgender Equality published one of the most comprehensive reviews of discrimination against trans folk that finally paints our picture in detail. A brief snapshot: 90% of us experienced workplace harassment or discrimination. 26% of us lost our jobs and careers when we came out. 19% of us have been homeless, and another 29% have been turned away at homeless shelters specifically because of our identity. 19% of us had been refused service in health care, and 57% of us experienced some kind of significant family rejection. Those statistics were based on the responses from trans people of every race; it should be noted that every single outcome is worse if you’re also black and trans.

These are the facts, and though they are nothing new for trans people, they demonstrate that Bill C-16 is necessary to explicitly protect Canadian trans people who have largely been relegated to patchwork federal case law and legal gray areas until very recently.

When the results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) were released, I naively hoped these statistics would offer a chance for those who didn’t know them to get a big-picture view of some of our crises, amd that the NTDS would enter the conversation on public policy.

After all, legislators are passing policy for everyone, so they’d want the full picture, right?

Apparently not. The necessity of a human rights bill like C-16 ought to be self-evident given the outcomes of the trans community, simply because of the appalling frequency and degree of discrimination that trans Canadians continue to face — but you do need to be aware of that fact first for it to be obvious. The law has been passed in Parliament but awaits further voting in the Senate, and during these debates, the data is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

Read more on The Establishment.

BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” p2: Say it with me now…

This series on BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” is co-authored by HJ Hornbeck and Siobhan O’Leary. It attempts to fact-check and explore the documentary’s many claims concerning gender variant youth. You can follow the rest of the series here:

  1. Part One: You got Autism in my Gender Dysphoria!
  2. Part Two: Say it with me now…
  3. Part Three: My old friend, eighty percent
  4. Part Four: Dirty Sexy Brains

 


 

Say it with me now…

…Kenneth Zucker was not “fired by transgender activists.” He was fired after a review of his practice by his peers in psychiatry.

There are quite a few questionable claims within BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” Perhaps the most glaring is who they decided could answer the hypothetical question posed in the title: Kenneth Zucker, whose public statements have the dubious distinction of being refutable by his own research; and Ray Blanchard, the father of a unfalsifiable transsexual taxonomy that characterized trans women as either self-hating gay men or as sexual fetishists.

Not to point too fine a point on it, but calling this balanced is a bit like calling in an arsonist to lecture about fire safety.

This documentary recycles numerous specious claims that I’ve discussed elsewhere in my work. This puts me in an awkward position, since the temptation is to simply say “start from June, and just read every single post I’ve done on trans issues.” Seriously–the documentary parses like someone began with Julia Serano’s guide of pitfalls to avoid in this conversation and then said, “yeah, let’s do all 8 of that.”

For instance, the narrator at one point asserts that gender affirmative healthcare models have been advanced by “transgender activists.”1 While not false by any stretch of the imagination, the documentary also attributes to transgender activists Ken Zucker’s firing2, the unseating of Zucker’s aversion methodology3, “unnecessary meddling” with children4, and reinforcing gender stereotypes5. It completely fails to mention the academic criticism involved in all these points, a persistent theme throughout the work.

It’s a wonder how us activists get anything done, with how busy we are meddling with families, getting doctors fired, their methods discredited, and somehow bearing sole responsibility for reinforcing cultural gendered stereotypes despite being outnumbered by cisgender people 500:1. Make no mistake–the documentary is repeatedly poisoning the well when it mentions “transgender activists”–no attribution made to us is ever complimentary. And it also makes sure that anyone who supports gender affirmation is understood by an unknowing audience to be inherently anti-science, even though the model is supported by evidence, and even though many activists know the science and many scientists do at least some activism to propagate it.

Compare the above claims made by the documentary to my previous response to Jesse Singal’s well-paid concern trolling. Quoting Singal, I previously wrote:

[Read more…]

The Guardian’s anti-trans bias isn’t exactly subtle

Full disclosure: I have an axe to grind with any organization, publication or person that styles itself/themselves as progressive but consistently pushes anti-trans bullshit.

Check this out: Of the articles tagged “transgender” that allow commentators to participate, all five are about cisgender anxieties about trans people–transition regret, bathroom bills, housing in prisons, Sarah fucking Ditum, more bathroom segregation. This is an editorial choice, not an accident. There’s an editor out there fully cognizant of the fact that you can get 1,000x more clicks on a page that’s willing to call trans people “grotesque” than something thoughtful and evidence-based.

And I’m fucking sick of it. Look at the comments of this article. Moderating voice that tries to make the distinction between anxiety of sexed attributes and dissatisfaction with gender role? 4 likes. “Trans activist” conspiracy theory quoting the much-discussed-long-misapprehended 80% desistance myth? 107 likes.

Fact checking? 11 likes.

Trans cabal? 142 likes.

Fact checking? 20 likes.

Contradicting themselves in the same paragraph but hey it’s transphobic who cares? 80 likes.

Anecdote about “some people say”? 116 likes.

Smarten the fuck up, Guardian consumers. I’m so done with faux-progressives.

-Shiv

Journalist or Activist?

Borrowing from the tradition of anti-intellectualism, activist is now a snarl word in journalism, too. 

As a gender variant person who writes on gender variant issues, I am routinely accused of being “political” in my writings.* What I find utterly bizarre is that I label any contextualizations of my personal experiences as personal experiences. In the absence of that label, I stand by that work on the basis of its adherence to evidence.

I am utterly baffled as to how drawing upon sources to make statements supported by scientific consensus is now a “political” activity. Let me be perfectly clear: If evidence-based argument is “activism” rather than a strain of politics, then by definition your politics don’t include facts. This is ultimately what has alienated me from mainstream media, this strange and frankly broken idea that all opinions are equivalent, even when one is bullshit from start to finish and the other is well-researched. It has groomed an entire generation of self-appointed experts who quite frankly are amazing at wasting my fucking time.

Of course I’m hardly the first person to encounter this and I doubt I’ll be the last. Stephen Colbert (apparently) called this out back in the era of Bush Jr.–“reality has an anti-conservative bias”–but it’s quite another thing to actually experience it first hand. When it comes to gender variance, the bottom line is that enough people consider themselves equipped to participate in the conversation, spouting off shit that’s already been refuted forwards and backwards, or more commonly not bothering with citations at all.

My politics require facts. I will not be made to apologize for that.

-Shiv


 

*Even the, uh, political posts.

Signal boosting: Stealth is not safe

Y’all should be reading Alyssa already, but in case you aren’t, let me signal boost a post to get you started.

“Stealth,” for the uninitiated, refers to pretending one’s gender doesn’t bear the adjective “trans.” It means pretending to be a cis representative of one’s gender, to have been recognized as a member thereof for one’s entire life, and to have never borne a different name. “Going stealth” means hiding a large chunk of one’s past and papering over the resulting gaps with denial and occasional lies. This was once medically mandated for transgender women, who were expected to leave their hometowns and live somewhere where no one knew their history. And it doesn’t work.

Even this picture is overly rosy. Many of us get found out, not because of our path through time, but because of our path through space. Especially in a world where I felt I had to deny this piece of myself in order to survive, I would require the support of the local queer community, but being seen in association with such a community is itself dangerous. I would be spending time among other transgender women and be flagged by association. Deadly raids are the incident that sparked the Gay Pride movement, and still occur in some of these places. Even if I keep my honesty confined to online conversations, these generate records that can be accessed to identify me and my associates. The level of denial and concealment I would have to maintain to make sure that my actual public presence holds no trace of my transness would undo many of the gains I have achieved by transitioning in the first place, and make all of my surviving friendships dishonest and distant.

Read more here.

Good news Monday: Victim’s advocates debunk transphobic bathroom bills

The Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Woman has several hundred signatures from various women’s advocacy groups pointing out some of the obvious fallacies present in transphobic bathroom bills such as North Carolina’s HB2:

Nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people have existed for a long time. Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. In some cases, these protections have been in place for decades. These laws have protected people from discrimination without creating harm. None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state. We operate and advocate for rape crisis centers and shelters all over the country, including in cities and states with non-discrimination protections for transgender people. Those protections have not weakened public safety or criminal laws, nor have they compromised their enforcement.

Discriminating against transgender people does not give anyone more control over their body or security. Those who perpetuate falsehoods about transgender people and nondiscrimination laws are putting transgender people in harm’s way and making no one safer. We cannot stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims.  We will only accomplish our goal of ending sexual violence by treating all people, including those who are transgender, with fairness and respect.

The letter is from April 2016 but I missed it amid my early blaggage. Still, I appreciate knowing that actual experts in victim’s advocacy agreed with my observations that these bills are solutions in search of a problem.

-Shiv